My thoughts on the shifting main stages, the decline (and rebirth) of naturalism and other symptoms of the current renaissance in Australian theatre are published in today's Australian. A sample:
During the past few years, our small but vibrant theatre culture has begun to produce some of the most intelligent and, yes, entertaining theatre in the English-speaking world.
The Broadway success of the Belvoir St-Malthouse Theatre production of Exit the King, which has been nominated for four Tony awards, is only the glamorous tip of a wave generated by seismic shifts beneath the surface of the culture during the past decade. Partly this is due to the influence of the coruscating questioning of the form led by directors such as Kosky. But that's by no means the whole story.
These changes inevitably have led to conflict, most often portrayed, as in Williamson's comments, as a war between writing and directing. It's an argument that reaches far beyond our shores. Only last month, The Guardian's critic Michael Billington prompted howls of derision by warning against the cult of the auteur director, which he claimed was at the expense of the writer and would seduce British theatre to artistic bankruptcy.
At first glance, the ascendancy of the director may seem to be a fait accompli. Auteur directors such as Kosky and Benedict Andrews, or the brash young Melbourne group Hayloft, which recently caused a storm of debate with its interpretation of Chekhov's Three Sisters, offer interpretations of classic plays that can seem to be -- and sometimes are -- radically disrespectful of the art of writing.
But a closer look complicates the picture. Kosky is, after all, one of our most literate theatre artists and is a long-term collaborator with Tom Wright, who was short-listed for this year's NSW Premier's Play Award. Andrews also collaborates with writers; for several years he has worked closely with German playwright Marius von Mayenburg, a regular at London's Royal Court, itself the original writer's theatre.
Just as Williamson's complaints about his marginalisation chime oddly with his continued presence on main stages, the contradictions suggest there is more to this than meets the eye.
You can read the whole piece here.